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London's finest houses are being hollowed out and knocked through to suit billionaire buyers who want huge, swanky living spaces. "Those handsome corridors, stairs, doors and walls are heading for the skip. And, with them, goes the odd, private, shy genius of the British terraced house: our greatest contribution to world architecture"
How to make a Hollywood blockbuster — in this case, Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Notes from conversations in which George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan hashed out ideas for plot and hero, “the doctor with the bullwhip”, whom Lucas first wanted to call Indiana Smith, and who borrowed much of his style from Bogart
Fear of inferiority has been the thread running through Sino-Soviet relations since Mao first met Stalin. Then it was China that was the lesser partner. Now it is Russia. When Deng and Gorbachev normalised relations in 1989, Deng said the two countries had quarrelled because "the Soviet Union incorrectly perceived China's place in the world"
"Atheists should learn to rescue some of what is beautiful, touching and wise. What is good within the faiths belongs to all of mankind, even the most rational, and deserves to be reabsorbed selectively by the supernatural’s greatest enemies. Religions are intermittently too useful, effective and intelligent to be abandoned to the religious alone"
"You wake up at 7am on a wonderful morning in early 2000. Dreamy as you are, you grab your phone to check the news and your email. Well, the news is that no one has texted you while you were sleeping and that your phone doesn’t connect to the internet. Because, well, you don’t have a smartphone. Just like everyone else doesn’t"
Proceedings in a Canadian small claims court. Which may not sound like a compelling proposition, but persevere and you will find a charming vignette. "Here, in this room, all of these professionals and all this infrastructure exists simply to decide the fate of $1,149.23. This is how strongly we believe that justice is worth funding"
Enough pussy-footing. Time for a radical remedy. "Rip all banks, large or small, in two — separate deposit-taking from credit-creation. Back the deposits one-for-one with reserves at the central bank. Then fund loans not with deposits or other money-like liabilities but by tapping investors who understand they've put their savings at risk"
Urologist specialising in prostate cancer contracts prostate cancer, opts for surgery. "Professor Dasgupta places his colleague’s gland on a piece of gauze and prods and stretches it. It is dark-reddish, grainy and meaty, and if I hadn’t just seen it functioning inside a human being I would have thought it as benign as a piece of chicken tikka"
Court will, in effect, have to make a political decision: "Gay marriage doesn't fit any existing judicial template. It doesn't neatly fit civil-rights decisions overturning, for example, racial discrimination, because society has always (rightly or wrongly) viewed male+female as intrinsic to the nature of marriage in a way that white+white is not"
Edward Luttwak thinks not: "Only a fully democratic China could advance unimpeded to global hegemony, but then the governments of a full democratic China would undoubtedly seek to pursue quite other aims". Besides which, other countries would unite against it. Roundup of books on China's future by Luttwak, Arvind Subramanian, and Odd Arne Westad
"One of the gratifying aspects of a major financial crisis is that public understanding of capitalism increases significantly"
"Just as the market for automobile repair will work poorly if the average customer blames his grocer for engine trouble, local elections will work poorly if the average voter blames the president for the quality of public schools. "
"Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs"